Microsoft Mesh Aims to Bring VR/AR Devices, Users Together

Microsoft Mesh is a new mixed-reality platform powered by Azure that enables people in different locations to meet and collaborate as digital representations of themselves in holographic experiences across a variety of devices. To demonstrate the shared experience, Microsoft technical fellow Alex Kipman appeared at the company’s Ignite digital conference this week via holoportation, and was joined by Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté, filmmaker James Cameron and Niantic CEO John Hanke to discuss related initiatives. Microsoft announced two apps built on the platform — a preview version for HoloLens 2 and a new Mesh-enabled version of AltspaceVR. Continue reading Microsoft Mesh Aims to Bring VR/AR Devices, Users Together

Twitter Considers New Strategies for More Revenue Streams

The majority of Twitter’s revenue comes from targeted advertising, but the company is now developing a subscription product that it has considered for years to create a new revenue stream. According to eMarketer, Twitter’s portion of the global digital ad market remains at 0.8 percent and has grown at a slower pace than those of Facebook and Snap. Its U.S. user base has also leveled off. The COVID-19 pandemic and pressure from investors to drive growth are other factors influencing Twitter’s decision to move forward. Continue reading Twitter Considers New Strategies for More Revenue Streams

Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has identified Apple as one of the company’s biggest rivals, even as it posted record-breaking revenue and profit in Q4. The two companies have clashed over data collection, app-store fees and, most recently, Apple’s plan to enable users to opt-out of data collection by third-party apps. That disadvantages Facebook, which has become an online advertising giant. Zuckerberg noted that Apple’s move will interfere with Facebook’s ability to target ads to its 1.85 billion daily users. Continue reading Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple

Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

Facing a bipartisan push from Congress to change Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a liability shield against lawsuits for Internet platforms, tech companies have said they are now ready to discuss it. For 20+ years, Internet platforms have adamantly defended Section 230 but, in recent weeks, both Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey have voiced support for “updating” and/or “expanding” the law. Democrats and Republicans have threatened to repeal Section 230. Continue reading Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

Snap is introducing a video-sharing feature called Spotlight designed to help its Snapchat app better compete with TikTok and Instagram Reels. Spotlight allows the creation of content that could go viral, a marked difference from its long-time focus on communication between friends and curated posts. Snap will spend $1+ million a day to reward those who post the best content and highlight top snaps to its 249+ million daily users in a feed they can swipe or tap. With Spotlight, Snap hopes customers increase the time they spend on the app. It also opens the door to advertising. Continue reading Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

Snap Introduces Its First Shoppable Original Show: ‘The Drop’

At Snap’s first Digital Content NewFronts presentation, VP of sales for the Americas Peter Naylor announced “The Drop,” the platform’s first “shoppable” original show, highlighting “exclusive streetwear collabs” from celebrities and designers. It also debuted the Verizon-sponsored “Fake Up,” in which make-up artists compete to create optical illusions and greenlit the second season of original series “Driven,” about custom cars. Naylor, a former Hulu executive, said his two Gen Z daughters are “big Snapchat users.” Continue reading Snap Introduces Its First Shoppable Original Show: ‘The Drop’

Snapchat Aims to Compete With AR-Centric Digital Platform

Snap is planning to compete directly with Apple, Facebook and Google by creating a complete digital platform, with an app store, expanded games service and ability for third-party developers to build augmented reality experiences with its machine-learning models. Further, Snap is permitting other apps to integrate its camera software and include businesses and users’ friends into its maps. Snapchat has grown to 229 million daily users, versus Twitter’s 166 million, but is still smaller than Instagram and Facebook. Continue reading Snapchat Aims to Compete With AR-Centric Digital Platform

Snap Expands AR Toolset, Announces Deals for New Content

Snap inked multi-year deals for custom short-form content with Disney, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, the National Basketball Association and the National Football League. It released plans for original content including unscripted series, docuseries, and scripted dramas and comedies. In partnership with The Washington Post, Bloomberg and ESPN, Snap will produce “Happening Now,” a breaking news feature. It also revealed that 170+ million people use its augmented-reality tools daily, moving the technology into the mainstream. Continue reading Snap Expands AR Toolset, Announces Deals for New Content

Tech Firms Consider Remote Work Options After Coronavirus

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter were among the first U.S. companies to send their employees home as the coronavirus spread. Now, as they reopen their campuses, they are also allowing some of employees to continue to work from home. If that policy becomes widespread, it will be a major change from the college-like corporate campuses the companies built to encourage creativity and spontaneous interactions. Working from home will be its own perk and allow companies to broaden their search for workers. Continue reading Tech Firms Consider Remote Work Options After Coronavirus

Facebook Ad Sales Pick Up, Resulting in Strong Q1 Revenue

With the coronavirus pandemic, advertising plummeted on many online sites, including social media giant Facebook. The company’s chief financial officer David Wehner declared that factor “largely attributable” to the 16 percent decline in average price of ads purchased in March. But gaming and e-Commerce companies picked up the slack by spending more, taking advantage of less competition in the company’s ad auctions. As a result, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told analysts the company would “remain in growth mode.” Continue reading Facebook Ad Sales Pick Up, Resulting in Strong Q1 Revenue

Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Facebook’s Instagram recently debuted Co-Watching, a feature that makes it possible for users to video chat while they browse the app. With Co-Watching, users can engage in direct-message video-chat conversations to look at saved, liked and suggested photos and videos together. Co-Watching is just one example of ways that Facebook and Instagram are shifting to accommodate users and communities during the coronavirus pandemic, when many are confined to home. Instagram first began testing Co-Watching a year ago. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Coronavirus Transforms Facebook into Major News Hub Again

With millions of Americans stuck at home, Facebook’s usage — especially messaging and video calls — has skyrocketed, and driven traffic to purveyors of coronavirus news. So much so that, as of a week ago, more than 50 percent of the articles being read on Facebook in the U.S. were coronavirus-related, and U.S. traffic from Facebook to other sites also soared 50+ percent due “almost entirely” to the coronavirus. But the social media companies aren’t spared the economic impact of the virus: a decrease in marketing dollars. Continue reading Coronavirus Transforms Facebook into Major News Hub Again

Shares Rise as Twitter’s Revenue Passes $1B for First Time

Twitter revealed that, in Q4, revenue rose 11 percent to $1.01 billion, the first time that quarterly revenue topped the billion-dollar mark, and surpassing the $992 million projected by Wall Street analysts. The company stated that income was $118.8 million, with costs rising 22 percent from a year earlier. Its operating income, a closely watched number, was $153 million, down from $207 million the previous year and lower than the $161 million predicted by analysts surveyed by FactSet. Shares rose about 15 percent. Continue reading Shares Rise as Twitter’s Revenue Passes $1B for First Time

Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

In Snapchat’s animated series Bitmoji TV, which launches February 1, the user’s avatar stars — and the last person he Snapchatted co-stars — in various TV scenarios, including sitcoms, soap operas and reality competitions. This first season will debut 10 three-to-four-minute episodes, unveiled on Saturday mornings. As Bitmoji founder/chief executive Ba Blackstock puts it, “we’re bringing back Saturday morning cartoons.” The series takes off from Bitmoji Stories, which stars the user’s avatar in funny situations. Continue reading Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

Verizon, Snap Team to Create 5G-Enabled AR Experiences

With an eye towards 5G apps, Verizon inked a new tech development/marketing deal with Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. The companies plan to work together at Verizon’s 5G Labs to create augmented reality experiences for consumers as well as engage in exclusive distribution and co-marketing projects, such as Verizon preloading Snapchat on some 5G phones. The Snap Originals video series will also feature Verizon as a premium sponsor. Director Harmony Korine made a short experimental film with Snap’s Spectacles 3 camera. Continue reading Verizon, Snap Team to Create 5G-Enabled AR Experiences

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